General Motors has written the book on acquiring IT goods and servicesliterally.
When he embarked three years ago on his landmark outsourcing strategy of handing work to a number of suppliers that would both co-operate and compete, GM CIO Ralph Szygenda said he believed he was entering new management territory where new skills would be needed to manage the various suppliers.
Following the penning of a series of new outsourcing contracts with the likes of Electronic Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Global Services, CapGemini and Wipro in June, two GMers now have come up with an extensive manualcalled CMMI-ACQ (Capability Maturity Model Integration for Acquisition)of best practices for acquiring IT hardware, software and services. The work was done with the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh.
The work has ramifications far beyond GM. As organizations globalize, they are finding they must standardize processes so they can repeat them with little modification in different locales around the world. The new methodology is thus poised to fill a void in IT management for big IT buyers worldwide.
"Companies and government agencies throughout the world can leverage this model to become 'best in class,'" said Szygenda in a statement. "And IT suppliers can leverage this model to provide more robust and efficient support to their business customers."
"The model provides a foundation that everybody really needs, no matter the characteristics of the organization," said Deborah Yedlin, global director of verification and validation for global systems delivery in the Information Systems and Services unit of GM, in Detroit. The core purchasing methods can be customized with unique practices for different industries, Yedlin explained.
The vendor community also stands to gain from the new methodology, said David Scherb, business development manager for SEI. "Software developers were pleased to reach a high level of maturity with their model. If a customer doesn't understand how to speak about requirements, then a chaotic acquirer can screw up what the developers are doing," Scherb said.